Conowingo res­i­dents sick­ened by smells

Cecil Whig - - OBITUARIES - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

CONOWINGO — Neigh­bors on Steel­man Drive had been smelling an odor they sus­pect is nat­u­ral gas for sev­eral days but Thurs­day morn­ing it was so pun­gent that some were get­ting sick.

“I had slept with the win­dows open and had shut off the air con­di­tion­ing,” said Arthur Cam­pana. Wak­ing for work around 3 a.m. he didn’t feel well.

“I thought I had food poi­son­ing,” Cam­pana told the Whig. Then he de­cided that the last thing he ate — pop­corn — could not have made him sick.

Kelly Cam­pana said, like her hus­band, she had been feel­ing the ef­fects.

“I’ve had a headache all week,” she said. “This morn­ing I couldn’t even walk out­side.”

“You couldn’t she added.

Neigh­bors told also af­fected.

“One called me and said her kids woke up sick. They were vom­it­ing,” Kelly Cam­pana said. Another said the odor had soaked into fab­rics and cloth­ing in her house.

Karen Serra said her hus­band went out for an early morn­ing smoke and didn’t stay out long be­cause of the smell. She added what­ever the source of the odor, it did not trip her car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tor.

Re­turn­ing home from work hours later, Arthur Cam­pana opened his garage and was hit with a blast of the odor. Walk­ing from the garage to his front en­try the smell got worse.

“It per­me­ated the house,” breathe,” of chil­dren he said. With his mother ar­riv­ing for a visit he was anx­ious to ven­ti­late his home.

In the midst of all this he be­gan think­ing “what was the source of the odor?”

“It’s not fer tilizer,” he said, not­ing he is fa­mil­iar with the agri­cul­tural fra­grance.

Cam­pana also con­tacted Old Do­min­ion Elec­tric, think­ing per­haps there was a gas leak at the Rock Springs or Wild­cat Point Gen­er­at­ing Fa­cil­ity and the com­pany needed to be made aware. Told there was no leak on the util­ity’s prop­er­ties he con­tacted BGE and Del­marva Power. He learned that Del­marva Power does not sup­ply nat­u­ral gas in western Ce­cil County and BGE’s lines do not run to Conowingo.

Some tried to lay the blame on lo­cal propane com­pa­nies, all who said that propane and nat­u­ral gas have dif­fer­ent odors, and the smell was not propane.

“I even thought some­one’s sep­tic had backed up,” Arthur Cam­pana said of the pun­gent odor.

Rul­ing out all that he turned to Columbia Gas and its net­work of pipes that travel from the Gulf of Mex­ico through Ce­cil County en route to Penn­syl­va­nia and New York.

Columbia Gas was by TC En­ergy 2016.

“Last sum­mer I saw them putting in shut off boxes,” Cam­pana said. He tried to talk to the in­stal­la­tion crew. “When I asked them they said, “Don’t worry about it” and said noth­ing more.”

TC En­ergy crews could be seen sur­vey­ing the area and BGE did send a crew to in­ves­ti­gate as well.

Tasha Jamer­son, spokes­woman for BGE said they came up empty.

“They have not found any in­di­ca­tion of any nat­u­ral gas leaks nor is there any in­di­ca­tion of any nat­u­ral gas odors in the area,” Jamer­son said via email.

By 1 p.m. Thurs­day the smell was still lin­ger­ing but not as over­whelm­ing.

“But this has been go­ing on for five days,” Cam­pana said. “You call and call and no one wants to talk to you.” ac­quired in

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Arthur Cam­pana said when he came home from work Thurs­day af­ter­noon a heavy nat­u­ral gas-like odor that was out­side when he left had built up in­side his home and met him when he opened his garage door.

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